Old Town Wine Cellars aims for a mellow, friendly experience in its new space on Park City’s Main Street
Old Town Cellars has moved up in the world by keeping its roots planted in Park City.
After serving the community for nearly four years in a space on lower Main Street, owners Stephen MacKay and Jason Morgan moved operations up the road to 408 Main St. and opened the OTC Bar and Lounge in December.
“It’s been a natural progression,” said MacKay, a self-proclaimed wine geek. “We thought moving up Main Street where all the big boys play was where we needed to be. Now, we’re in Old Town, and we’re in a cellar, and that fits who we are as Parkites, our brand, winery and model.”
The OTC Bar and Lounge is currently open from 3-11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 3 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Although the hours will shift a bit in April, both Morgan and MacKay said they plan to remain open throughout mud season.
“We may close a couple of days for cleaning, but that’s it,” Morgan said.
Old Town Cellars also conducts private tastings by appointment and does rent out for birthday parties and corporate dinners, MacKay said.
“We only do that when we feel it’s appropriate,” he said. “We don’t want to get too heavily into that. We don’t want to alienate our regulars. We want to maintain the familiarity and consistency.”
The 2,800 square foot space, which is the former home of J GO Gallery, took its time to unfold to the new owners during renovation, according to Morgan.
“We didn’t fully understand what we were getting into with the remodel as far as the complexity and character of the building,” he said. “But it’s been a cool addition to the company — to have a space that actually reflects what we were doing.”
The space, which is highlighted by Gypsy Mountain Skull’s rustic, repurposed bone art by Allison Badell, and Western photography by Dan Campbell, who is also OTC’s marketing and social media director, has a place deep inside Park City’s history, said MacKay.
“Way back during the mining days, it was a silver bullion vault, and we also heard rumors that this was a speakeasy during Prohibition and that there is a plugged up tunnel that connected to a church,” he said. “We also heard Bill White had a furniture store here years ago.”
The Bar and Lounge is also different than other Main Street bars, because it lacks Wi-Fi and blaring TVs, Morgan said.
“We wanted to offer something that wasn’t being done on Main Street, which is an intimate and mellow drinking experience,” he said. “We wanted (the bar) to be more about using wine to bring people together. That’s what we have been trying to do since day one, and now we have a bigger, but more intimate space where people want to do that.”
The space adds to the OTC mystique, which is perfect for a winery that grows, harvests and crushes grapes on the West Coast in southern Oregon and in Washington before blending and bottling in Park City, Morgan said.
“That unique model allows us to sell retail and wholesale,” he said. “We’re one of the few places where you can buy a bottle of wine in Utah on Sundays and federal holidays.”
A few months ago, MacKay and Morgan brought on a head winemaker, Charlie Kidd, who has 25 years of experience.
“He’s grown grapes and made wine in North Carolina, Texas, Oregon and California,” MacKay said. “He’s become a mentor, and the guy who has allowed us to step up to the next level and elevate our product.”
In addition to OTC wine, the Bar and Lounge serves approved wines from other wineries, Morgan said.
“We rotate some others that plug in the holes of what we do,” he said. “This makes the menu ever changing, fun and eclectic.”
In addition to the wines, the menu includes eight different beers that are all from Utah breweries, as well as a short list of spirits that are served on the rocks.
For food, MacKay and Morgan work with chef and butcher Philip Grubia at Beltex Meats from Salt Lake City, cheesemaker Fernando Chaves-Sandoval of Gold Creek Farms, Lorin and Ben Smaha at Freshies Lobster Company and Robbie Stout and Anna Davies at Ritual Chocolate. And Old Town Cellars’ exclusive caterer is Culinary Crafts, run by Kaleb, Ryan and Meagan Craft.
All the food producers are from Utah, MacKay said.
He was inspired to keep the circle small after hearing about a study done by Atticus Coffee and Teahouse owners Randy and Ericah Winzeler.
“They found that 67 cents for every dollar that was spent locally at a small business stayed in the state, but if you supported a conglomerate, only 17 cents of every dollar would stay in the state,” MacKay said. “That resonated with me, because while Park City is ever changing, everybody knows everybody in this town. And it’s been important for us to support the people who live here year-round.”
Morgan has a more selfish reason for choosing these producers.
“I like working with people whom I like, and I have the utmost respect for the people on (our) list,” he said. “They are incredibly talented and passionate of what they do, and it’s been nothing but a privilege to bring their products here and share their passion.”
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